South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has filed an opening brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging a lower court’s preliminary injunction against the state’s most recent pro-life law. Among other provisions, the bill prohibits abortions performed after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually about six weeks into pregnancy.
The law, which McMaster signed in mid February, immediately faced a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a local abortion clinic. The next day, a federal district court issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the law, and by mid March the court had issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law in its entirety.
In their appeal, McMaster and his fellow defendants argue, first, that the plaintiffs lack third-party constitutional standing and statutory standing, and thus that their challenge to the law should be dismissed. Second, they argue that the court ignored the severability clause in the heartbeat bill, which would enable some portions of the law to stand while others are blocked by the preliminary injunction as they face a legal challenge.
“While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case related to Mississippi’s law offers great hope and promise for protecting the lives of the unborn, we must defend South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Act against every challenge at every level,” McMaster said in a statement announced the filing of his appeal.
South Carolina is one of about a dozen states to have passed a heartbeat bill in recent years, but most have been temporarily or permanently blocked in court after facing legal challenges from abortion-rights groups and abortion providers.